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26.  Fracture risk and the use of a diuretic (indapamide sr) ± perindopril: a substudy of the Hypertension in the Very Elderly Trial (HYVET) 
Trials  2006;7:33.
The Hypertension in the Very Elderly Trial (HYVET) is a placebo controlled double blind trial of treating hypertension with indapamide Slow Release (SR) ± perindopril in subjects over the age of 80 years. The primary endpoints are stroke (fatal and non fatal). In view of the fact that thiazide diuretics and indapamide reduce urinary calcium and may increase bone mineral density, a fracture sub study was designed to investigate whether or not the trial anti-hypertensive treatment will reduce the fracture rate in very elderly hypertensive subjects.
In the trial considerable care is taken to ascertain any fractures and to identify risk factors for fracture, such as falls, co-morbidity, drug treatment, smoking and drinking habits, levels of activity, biochemical abnormalities, cardiac irregularities, impaired cognitive function and symptoms of orthostatic hypotension.
Potential results
The trial is expected to provide 10,500 patient years of follow-up. Given a fracture rate of 40/1000 patient years and a 20% difference in fracture rate, the power of the sub study is 58% to detect this difference at the 5% level of significance. The corresponding power for a reduction of 25% is 78%.
The trial is well under way, expected to complete in 2009, and on target to detect, if present, the above differences in fracture rate.
PMCID: PMC1769508  PMID: 17177983
27.  Cross-sectional survey of older peoples' views related to influenza vaccine uptake 
BMC Public Health  2006;6:249.
The population's views concerning influenza vaccine are important in maintaining high uptake of a vaccine that is required yearly to be effective. Little is also known about the views of the more vulnerable older population over the age of 74 years.
A cross-sectional survey of community dwelling people aged 75 years and over wh, previous participant was conducted using a postal questionnaire. Responses were analysed by vaccine uptake records and by socio-demographic and medical factors.
85% of men and 75% of women were vaccinated against influenza in the previous year. Over 80% reported being influenced by a recommendation by a health care worker. The most common reason reported for non uptake was good health (44%), or illness considered to be due to the vaccine (25%). An exploration of the crude associations with socio-economic status suggested there may be some differences in the population with these two main reasons. 81% of people reporting good health lived in owner occupied housing with central heating vs. 63% who did not state this as a reason (p = 0.04), whereas people reporting ill health due to the vaccine was associated with poorer social circumstances. 11% lived in the least deprived neighbourhood compared to 36% who did not state this as a reason (p = 0.05) and were less likely to be currently married than those who did not state this as a reason (25% vs 48% p = 0.05).
Vaccine uptake was high, but non uptake was still noted in 1 in 4 women and 1 in 7 men aged over 74 years. Around 70% reported they would not have the vaccine in the following year. The divergent reasons for non-uptake, and the positive influence from a health care worker, suggests further uptake will require education and encouragement from a health care worker tailored towards the different views for not having influenza vaccination. Non-uptake of influenza vaccine because people viewed themselves as in good health may explain the modest socio-economic differentials in influenza vaccine uptake in elderly people noted elsewhere. Reporting of ill-health due to the vaccine may be associated with a different, poorer background.
PMCID: PMC1621069  PMID: 17034625
28.  A randomised controlled trial investigating the effect of n-3 long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acid supplementation on cognitive and retinal function in cognitively healthy older people: the Older People And n-3 Long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (OPAL) study protocol [ISRCTN72331636] 
Nutrition Journal  2006;5:20.
The number of individuals with age-related cognitive impairment is rising dramatically in the UK and globally. There is considerable interest in the general hypothesis that improving the diet of older people may slow the progression of cognitive decline. To date, there has been little attention given to the possible protective role of n-3 long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (n-3 LCPs) most commonly found in oily fish, in age-related loss of cognitive function. The main research hypothesis of this study is that an increased dietary intake of n-3 LCPs will have a positive effect on cognitive performance in older people in the UK.
To test this hypothesis, a double-blind randomised placebo-controlled trial will be carried out among adults aged 70–79 years in which the intervention arm will receive daily capsules containing n-3 LCP (0.5 g/day docosahexaenoic acid and 0.2 g/day eicosapentaenoic acid) while the placebo arm will receive daily capsules containing olive oil. The main outcome variable assessed at 24 months will be cognitive performance and a second major outcome variable will be retinal function. Retinal function tests are included as the retina is a specifically differentiated neural tissue and therefore represents an accessible window into the functioning of the brain.
The overall purpose of this public-health research is to help define a simple and effective dietary intervention aimed at maintaining cognitive and retinal function in later life. This will be the first trial of its kind aiming to slow the decline of cognitive and retinal function in older people by increasing daily dietary intake of n-3 LCPs. The link between cognitive ability, visual function and quality of life among older people suggests that this novel line of research may have considerable public health importance.
PMCID: PMC1564406  PMID: 16945130
29.  Is the NEI-VFQ-25 a useful tool in identifying visual impairment in an elderly population? 
BMC Ophthalmology  2006;6:24.
The use of self-report questionnaires to substitute for visual acuity measurement has been limited. We examined the association between visual impairment and self reported visual function in a population sample of older people in the UK.
Cross sectional study of people aged more than 75 years who initially participated in a trial of health screening. The association between 25-item National Eye Institute Visual Function Questionnaire (NEI-VFQ) scores and visual impairment (defined as an acuity of less than 6/18 in the better eye) was examined using logistic regression.
Visual acuity and NEI-VFQ scores were obtained from 1807 participants (aged 77 to 101 years, 36% male), from 20 general practices throughout the UK. After adjustment for age, gender, practice and NEI-VFQ sub-scale scores, those complaining of poor vision in general were 4.77 times (95% CI 3.03 to 7.53) more likely to be visually impaired compared to those who did not report difficulty. Self-reported limitations with social functioning and dependency on others due to poor vision were also associated with visual impairment (odds ratios, 2.52, 95% CI 1.55 to 4.11; 1.73, 95% CI 1.05 to 2.86 respectively). Those reporting difficulties with near vision and colour vision were more likely to be visually impaired (odds ratios, 2.32, 95% CI 1.30 to 4.15; 2.25, 95% CI 1.35 to 3.73 respectively). Other NEI-VFQ sub-scale scores were unrelated to measures of acuity. Similar but weaker odds ratios were found with reduced visual acuity (defined as less than 6/12 in the better eye). Although differences in NEI-VFQ scores were small, scores were strongly associated with visual acuity, binocular status, and difference in acuity between eyes.
NEI-VFQ questions regarding the quality of general vision, social functioning, visual dependency, near vision and colour vision are strongly and independently associated with an objective measure of visual impairment in an elderly population.
PMCID: PMC1523367  PMID: 16764714
30.  Effect of influenza vaccination on excess deaths occurring during periods of high circulation of influenza: cohort study in elderly people 
BMJ : British Medical Journal  2004;329(7467):660.
Objective To estimate the protection against death provided by vaccination against influenza.
Design Prospective cohort follow up supplemented by weekly national counts of influenza confirmed in the community.
Setting Primary care.
Participants 24 535 patients aged over 75 years from 73 general practices in Great Britain.
Main outcome measure Death.
Results In unvaccinated members of the cohort daily all cause mortality was strongly associated with an index of influenza circulating in the population (mortality ratio 1.16, 95% confidence interval 1.04 to 1.29 at 90th centile of circulating influenza). The association was strongest for respiratory deaths but was also present for cardiovascular deaths. In contrast, in vaccinated people mortality from any cause was not associated with circulating influenza. The difference in patterns between vaccinated and unvaccinated people could not easily be due to chance (P = 0.02, all causes).
Conclusions This study, using a novel and robust approach to control for confounding, provides robust evidence of a protective effect on mortality of vaccination against influenza.
PMCID: PMC517645  PMID: 15313884
31.  Vulnerability to winter mortality in elderly people in Britain: population based study 
BMJ : British Medical Journal  2004;329(7467):647.
Objective To examine the determinants of vulnerability to winter mortality in elderly British people.
Design Population based cohort study (119 389 person years of follow up).
Setting 106 general practices from the Medical Research Council trial of assessment and management of older people in Britain.
Participants People aged ≥ 75 years.
Main outcome measures Mortality (10 123 deaths) determined by follow up through the Office for National Statistics.
Results Month to month variation accounted for 17% of annual all cause mortality, but only 7.8% after adjustment for temperature. The overall winter:non-winter rate ratio was 1.31 (95% confidence interval 1.26 to 1.36). There was little evidence that this ratio varied by geographical region, age, or any of the personal, socioeconomic, or clinical factors examined, with two exceptions: after adjustment for all major covariates the winter:non-winter ratio in women compared with men was 1.11 (1.00 to 1.23), and those with a self reported history of respiratory illness had a winter:non-winter ratio of 1.20 (1.08 to 1.34) times that of people without a history of respiratory illness. There was no evidence that socioeconomic deprivation or self reported financial worries were predictive of winter death.
Conclusion Except for female sex and pre-existing respiratory illness, there was little evidence for vulnerability to winter death associated with factors thought to lead to vulnerability. The lack of socioeconomic gradient suggests that policies aimed at relief of fuel poverty may need to be supplemented by additional measures to tackle the burden of excess winter deaths in elderly people.
PMCID: PMC517639  PMID: 15315961
32.  Trends in influenza vaccination uptake among people aged over 74 years, 1997–2000: Survey of 73 general practices in Britain 
Influenza vaccination policy for elderly people in Britain has changed twice since 1997 to increase protection against influenza but there is no information available on how this has affected vaccine uptake, and socioeconomic variation therein, among people aged over 74 years.
Vaccination information for 1997–2000 was collected directly from general practices taking part in a MRC-funded Trial of the Assessment and Management of Older People in the Community. This was linked to information collected during assessments carried out as part of the Trial. Regression modelling was used to assess relative probabilities (as relative risks, RR) of having vaccination according to year, gender, age, area and individual socioeconomic characteristics.
Out of 106 potential practices, 73 provided sufficient information to be included in the analysis. Uptake was 48% (95% CI 45%, 55%) in 1997 and did not increase substantially until 2000 when the uptake was a third higher at 63% (50%, 66%). Vaccination uptake was lower among women than men (RR 0.9), people aged 85 or more compared to people aged under 80 (RR 0.9), those in the most deprived areas (RR 0.8) compared to the least deprived, and was relatively high for those in owner-occupied homes with central heating compared to other non-supported housing (RR for remainder = 0.9). This pattern did not change over the years studied.
Increased uptake in 2000 may have resulted from the additional financial resources given to practices; it was not at the expense of more disadvantaged socioeconomic groups but nor did they benefit disproportionately.
PMCID: PMC421730  PMID: 15099402
33.  Screening older people for impaired vision in primary care: cluster randomised trial 
BMJ : British Medical Journal  2003;327(7422):1027.
Objective To determine the effectiveness of screening for visual impairment in people aged 75 or over as part of a multidimensional screening programme.
Design Cluster randomised trial.
Setting General practices in the United Kingdom participating in the MRC trial of assessment and management of older people in the community.
Participants 4340 people aged 75 years or over randomly sampled from 20 general practices, excluding people resident in hospitals or nursing homes.
Intervention Visual acuity testing and referral to eye services for people with visual impairment. Universal screening (assessment and visual acuity testing) was compared with targeted screening, in which only participants with a range of health related problems were offered an assessment that included acuity screening.
Main outcome measures Proportion of people with visual acuity less than 6/18 in either eye; mean composite score of 25 item version of the National Eye Institute visual function questionnaire.
Results Three to five years after screening, the relative risk of having visual acuity < 6/18 in either eye, comparing universal with targeted screening, was 1.07 (95% confidence interval 0.84 to 1.36; P = 0.58). The mean composite score of the visual function questionnaire was 85.6 in the targeted screening group and 86.0 in the universal group (difference 0.4, 95% confidence interval -1.7 to 2.5, P = 0.69).
Conclusions Including a vision screening component by a practice nurse in a pragmatic trial of multidimensional screening for older people did not lead to improved visual outcomes.
PMCID: PMC261660  PMID: 14593039
34.  Improving the response rates to questionnaires  
BMJ : British Medical Journal  2002;324(7347):1168-1169.
PMCID: PMC1123146  PMID: 12016167
35.  Randomised comparison of three methods of administering a screening questionnaire to elderly people: findings from the MRC trial of the assessment and management of older people in the community 
BMJ : British Medical Journal  2001;323(7326):1403.
To compare three different methods of administering a brief screening questionnaire to elderly people: post, interview by lay interviewer, and interview by nurse.
Randomised comparison of methods within a cluster randomised trial.
106 general practices in the United Kingdom.
32 990 people aged 75 years or over registered with participating practices.
Main outcome measures
Response rates, proportion of missing values, prevalence of self reported morbidity, and sensitivity and specificity of self reported measures by method of administration of questionnaire for four domains.
The response rate was higher for the postal questionnaire than for the two interview methods combined (83.5% v 74.9%; difference 8.5%, 95% confidence interval 4.4% to 12.7%, P<0.001). The proportion of missing or invalid responses was low overall (mean 2.1%) but was greater for the postal method than for the interview methods combined (4.1% v 0.9%; difference 3.2%, 2.7% to 3.6%, P<0.001). With a few exceptions, levels of self reported morbidity were lower in the interview groups, particularly for interviews by nurses. The sensitivity of the self reported measures was lower in the nurse interview group for three out of four domains, but 95% confidence intervals for the estimates overlapped. Specificity of the self reported measures varied little by method of administration.
Postal questionnaires were associated with higher response rates but also higher proportions of missing values than were interview methods. Lower estimates of self reported morbidity were obtained with the nurse interview method and to a lesser extent with the lay interview method than with postal questionnaires.
What is already known on this topicThe optimum method of administering a brief multidimensional screening assessment to elderly people is not knownWhat this study addsPostal questionnaires produce a higher response rate than interviews by nurses or lay interviewers but also higher proportions of missing dataInterview by nurses and to a lesser degree by lay interviewers is associated with lower levels of self reported morbidity than are postal questionnaires
PMCID: PMC60986  PMID: 11744565
36.  How well can blood pressure be controlled? Progress report on the Systolic Hypertension in Europe Follow-Up Study (Syst-Eur 2) 
The randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled Systolic Hypertension in Europe trial (Syst-Eur 1) proved that blood pressure (BP) lowering therapy starting with nitrendipine reduces the risk of cardiovascular complications in elderly patients with isolated systolic hypertension. In an attempt to confirm the safety of long-term antihypertensive therapy based on a dihydropyridine, the Syst-Eur patients remained in open follow-up after the end of Syst-Eur 1. This paper presents the second progress report of this follow-up study (Syst-Eur 2). It describes BP control and adherence to study medications.
After the end of Syst-Eur 1 all patients, treated either actively or with placebo, were invited either to continue or to start antihypertensive treatment with the same drugs as previously used in the active treatment arm. In order to reach the target BP (sitting SBP <150 mmHg), the first line agent, nitrendipine, could be associated with enalapril and/or hydrochlorothiazide.
Of the 3787 eligible patients, 3516 (93%) entered Syst-Eur 2. At the last available visit, 72% of the patients were taking nitrendipine. SBP/DBP at entry in Syst-Eur 2 averaged 160/83 mmHg in the former placebo group and 151/80 mmHg in the former active-treatment group. At the last follow-up visit SBP/DBP in the patients previously randomised to placebo or active treatment had decreased by 16/5 mmHg and 7/5 mmHg, respectively. The target BP was reached by 74% of the patients.
Substantial reductions in systolic BP may be achieved in older patients with isolated systolic hypertension with a treatment strategy starting with the dihydropyridine calcium-channel blocker, nitrendipine, with the possible addition of enalapril and/or hydrochlorothiazide.
PMCID: PMC64833  PMID: 11806817
calcium-channel blockers; elderly; isolated systolic hypertension

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